I’ve always been interested in acting ever since high school drama classes. I played the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland and that hooked me.

I should have pursued acting at a younger age, but instead I became a contractor and owner. I did very well for many years until the economy went down-hill. At that point, I wondered what I should do and immediately thought of entertainment. But which part of the industry…? Acting? Comedy? Music?

Acting didn’t seem to be a realistic choice, since I live in Ohio; for that I knew I would need to be in L.A. Unwilling or unable to relocate so far away, I took a loan out of my 401k and that kept me afloat for awhile.

Comedy seemed to be a better choice… I was always good at being the “class clown,” so I started doing some stand-up comedy in local clubs. I made the people laugh, but didn’t find my niche in stand-up. I’m still working on that… (Laughs.)

As for music, there was my guitar, so I practiced on that. I could carry a tune, all right, but still I’d be better off playing the rubber band. Boing… Boing… But my mind was set on entertaining. I knew I had acting in my back pocket, but wasn’t quite sure where to start.

I thought of going back to school, but I wasn’t rich like Rodney Dangerfield. After awhile, I started getting really worried because I needed a new career. I needed a break….a foot in the door. Since I was on a serious budget, I had to stay persistent.

Well, one night I was watching CBS News when they announced that an audition was being held for a short film called The Movement….I felt lucky, so I went to the audition and tried out for the part. The role was as a bus driver and I lost out to an older gentleman. That’s the bad news… The good news is that I got the part of a homeless guy, which was ironic because at that point I was almost homeless! (Laughs.)

Small part, small pay-check, but my foot was in the door.

They were using the bus that was in the movie Speed with Sandra Bullock and during the shooting I got to thinking about driving the same bus that gave Sandra Bullock her first big start. That would have been fun—and perhaps a good omen–but I was happy, anyway. I had a part… I was busy… And everyone has to start somewhere! I learned a lot from that short film; it was the first time I saw the business end of a film production up close.

The director told me that if I was serious about being in movies, I would have to go to L.A. I smiled as I said, “Maybe someday, Kind Sir.” So when that movie ‘wrapped,’ there I was–on the hunt for my next project, ready to audition and work for food. I was hungry and wanted work, but didn’t know where to turn or what to do. I knew I couldn’t make it to L.A. California was out because I needed to have a good resume and build some credits before going there…or anywhere.

So there I was: Sitting in my office looking at Craig’s List when I found an audition for a film called The Black Doveand lo and behold, it was right here in my town of Cincinnati!

I was like that dog in the commercial that smelled bacon and ran around the house like a maniac! I read their want ad and saw many roles I could audition for, one particular was a role for a “bar bouncer.” I could do that, so I hurried off to the audition. After I was sitting, waiting for over an hour, this beautiful young lady walks over and asks, “What part are you trying for?” When I told her, she replied, “You fit that part very well.”

I smiled from ear to ear and was impressed when later I found out that she’s the Assistant Producer Robin McKerrell. Even though it’s a small part, I was so excited when I got the call telling me I had gotten the part and production started September 27, 2010 in Mason, Ohio.

I cruised up there on my Harley Davidson and it was about sixty-three degrees. I was surprised that so many well-known actors are in the movie. I walked into the bar and was sitting on a bar stool when Red West walked up to me and said, “Sure is cold here in Ohio.”

I knew who he was right off the bat–good ol’ Elvis Presley’s top security back in the day—so I smiled and said, “Yes, Sir.” Red plays the detective in the movie and he talked to me like he had always known me. Then when actor Lou Beatty, Jr. walked over I was thinking I sure picked a lucky bar stool. He looked at me really hard and said, “Don’t I know you?”

I replied, “No, Sir” and introduced myself. I started getting to know a lot of people, some famous and some not, but finding out that everyone on the set was really “nice people.”

Gregory de Long with Actor John Savage who plays lead role in "The Black Dove"

Well, my first day on the set went well, so I was excited when I went home. Robin McKerrell called to tell me to be on location at a certain time. I showed up early and since I felt so comfortable the day before, I claimed my same “lucky bar stool” while waiting for them to let me know when they were ready for me.  That’s when Actor Jimmy Lee Williams walked over. We started talking and next thing I knew, we were joking and laughing. After that, I spotted someone very familiar: John Savage and Abby Wathen, the actors who play the lead roles in the movie. But I kept my cool and never approached anyone to make them feel uncomfortable.

In addition to having a part in The Black Dove and learning more about the film industry, it was exciting to meet most of the actors on the set. I didn’t meet them all, but I met the stars, such good people. I could get used to this… (Laughs.)

Producer Michael Caporale auditioned me and is the one who picked me as one of his bar bouncers, but I never would have guessed they would all be so wonderful. Performing my role, after throwing John Savage out of the bar, we finished the scene and he said, “Come inside with me.” We walked back in and sat at a table where he ordered two coffees. Bar patrons were also buying me rounds of beer as we talked and said our goodbyes. John Savage treated me like a friend and is a great guy. I was so glad to have met him and hope I see him again.

I was really impressed with the acting skills of Savage, Wathen and the others, but Producer/Director Michael Caporale is the one who really inspired me. His perseverance blew me away… I’ve seen and heard of hard-working people, but that man shot his entire movie with a collapsed lung and a tumor blocking his airway. Later, he had his lung removed, but he healed up and seems to be doing well. God bless his heart…

I thank Michael Caporale and Robin McKerrell for giving me such an opportunity and for setting such a fine example. As Caporale worked past his obstacles to get his movie filmed, I plan to follow his example and make it in this very challenging industry. We must work hard for success.

I understand that the premiere of The Black Dove has been delayed due to Caporale’s health issues, but the last I heard it may premiere in May in theaters nationwide.

Just recently I sent my headshots to a movie called Blood in the Woods. I missed the audition, but am encouraged because the director called me and is giving me a late audition since “I have the look he wants.” I’m working on that request from him now…